Using a Credit Card to Save for College

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Does it make sense to use a cash-back credit card to help save for college? It can, for consumers with the discipline to pay off their card balance each month.

A small number of credit cards offer cash-back rewards that can be deposited directly into a 529 college savings account, the popular state-sponsored accounts that offer tax advantages.

The cards include the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card, which offers 2 percent cash back when the reward goes into an eligible Fidelity account, including one of the Fidelity-managed 529 college plans. The card does not restrict the rewards to specific spending categories and sets no limit on the amount of rewards that can be earned.

Others include the CollegeCounts 529 Rewards Visa card for participants in Alabama’s 529 plan and the Bright Directions 529 Rewards Visa card, for participants in the Illinois program. The cards, issued by Union Bank & Trust, offer 1.529 percent back. The Bright Directions website estimates that a family spending $2,500 a month would earn $458 a year in cash-back savings.

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